Wednesday, September 24, 2008

First Android Device Fails to Impress

T-Mobile in cooperation with Google yesterday announced the G1. I watched the video of the entire press conference. I think Google is not adapting to this new market instead relying on doing business the same way it does on the web. This may have proved successful for their web business but I don't think it will work out very well for the mobile market. Things that just don't work include:
  • No desktop application for syncing. Google is positioning everything to sync from the cloud, gmail, google calendar etc. Yeah, this is just going to be such a joy for organizing your music and other media files on your device.
  • No iTunes support. The largest music retailer in the world will not function with Android.
  • Sim locked to T-Mobile. 2 year contract with a retail price tag of $175. OK, so the device costs a lot more than $175 hence the contract, so why can't we just buy the full version? So much for this open thing.
  • The device is bulky, favoring a full pull out keyboard instead of a touch keyboard similar to the iPhone. I think this is more of a problem with HTC than the Android platform itself. However, now that I think about it, I haven't seen a touch keyboard on this platform period. The emulators don't have it.
  • Limited Bluetooth support and APIs. Google has pledge that future versions of the software will expand on these services.
  • Google Android Market is a good thing but are these devices actually upgradable? Can we upgrade from Android 1.0 to future Android releases?
  • For the relatively small price difference, that 8 GB flash drive found in the iPhone is looking very attractive. Honestly, dump the SD cards already.
  • Tooling support is still sub par. No visual designer is available but the latest Eclipse plugin has visual preview so this may be in the works. However, DroidDraw is available and is pretty good.
Not all is bad however, the strength of the platform is still Java SE. Android is a subset of the full Java SE 5. You can see the number of packages for Android here and for Java SE 5 here. It may be a subset of Java SE 5 but it's still huge compared to any other mobile platform out there. The other thing is that the Android compiler works on Java byte code. So any library written for the Java SE 5 platform, and yes, there are quite a few of them out there, can be potentially used on this platform.

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